australia

COVIDSafe app yet to identify any cases in latest Victorian outbreak

According to the state’s health secretary, the federal government’s coronavirus tracing app has not identified any cases in Victoria’s latest Covid-19 outbreak.

When asked if the COVIDSafe app had been used or identified cases in the latest outbreak to plunge Victoria into its fourth lockdown in 12 months, Martin Foley had a blunt response.

“No. Not as far as I know and I’m sure in such a rare event it would have been brought to my attention,” he said Monday afternoon.

The Morrison government launched the COVIDSafe app in April last year to help Australia tackle the ongoing threat of the coronavirus.

The app used encrypted Bluetooth communication between smartphones to identify when people were within 1.5 meters of another user for 15 minutes.

If an app user tested positive for Covid-19, they could upload that information to a central database where it can be accessed by state health officials to alert them to the close contact.

But the app has been subject to criticism for its lack of success in identifying Covid contacts.

A dozen software updates have also been released since April to fix bugs and security flaws and make the app work more effectively on iPhones when the screen is locked.

The Digital Transformation Agency — which is responsible for developing the app — told a Senate estimation committee late last year that only 66 percent of the app’s users had the most up-to-date version, including 63% of the users. iPhone users, and 74% of Android users.

It was also revealed that the app had a maintenance cost of approximately $75,000 per month.

During another Senate estimate last week, the DTA claimed that 567 close contacts of confirmed coronavirus cases had been located through the app since its launch in April.

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